Thank you to all those who contacted me about the welfare of fish.
All animals deserve protection whether on a farm, at home as a pet, at large in the wild or in the sea.
The Humane League, Animal Equality UK and the RSPCA have all raised concerns about the environmental and welfare conditions surrounding fishing, including water quality, handling procedures, the density of fish being kept together in water, transport and methods of slaughter.
The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act was passed last year which recognised the sentience in UK law of any vertebrate excluding homo sapiens. As fish are vertebrate, they would be included within this legislation.
I supported the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022 and also strongly supported the inclusion of decapod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs within its remit, which the Opposition called for from the beginning of the Act’s passage through Parliament.
However, I feel this legislation was a missed opportunity. The Government needs to be more comprehensive in its approach and go much further and faster on animal welfare.
The Government has asked the Animal Welfare Committee to update its 2014 Opinion on the welfare of farmed fish at the time of killing. It previously stated this advice was expected last autumn and now says it expects it by the end of March 2023. I will follow developments on this matter closely.